After initial confusion, there is now greater clarity with regard to the boundaries of the county’s newly created supervisorial districts.
Throughout all political jurisdictions in the United States from the federal down to local levels, following each decennial census reapportionment is conducted. In addition to the states’ addition or subtraction of congressional seats in the House of Representatives, the determination of the size of each state’s representation in the U.S. Electoral College, the geographical lines of congressional districts and state legislative districts, counties and cities also redraft the borders of the districts or zones for the offices of county supervisors and municipal council wards within cities which utilize by-district voting in choosing city council members.
Since 2012, San Bernardino County’s First District has been the largest geographical jurisdiction as well as its least densely populated one overseen by a single supervisor, consisting of Hesperia, Adelanto, Wrightwood, Amboy, Wheaton Springs, Apple Valley, West Cajon Valley, Argus, Oak Hills, Bagdad, Nipton, Baker, Oro Grande, Baldy Mesa, Vidal Junction, Big River, Saltus, Cadiz, Searchlight Junction, Calico, Pinon Hills, Cima, Daggett, Earp, Newberry Springs, El Mirage, Spring Valley Lake, Essex, Fenner, Goffs, Helendale, Hinkley, Phelan, Homer, Kelso, Ivanpah, Lenwood, Mountain Pass, Needles, Randsburg, Ludlow, Red Mountain, Rice, Kramer Junction, Silverlakes, Havasu Lake, Summit Valley, Fort Irwin, Trona, Victorville, Yermo and some other unincorporated communities which do not bear a name.
In the same time frame up to the present, the Second District included and includes north Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, the westernmost two-thirds of Fontana, Devore, Lytle Creek, San Antonio Heights, and Mt. Baldy as well as Lake Arrowhead, Crestline, Lake Gregory, Blue Jay, Cedar Glen, Valley of Enchantment, Twin Peaks, Cedarpines Park and Green Valley Lake.
The Third District encompasses the eastern portion of San Bernardino, Grand Terrace, Loma Linda, Highland, Redlands, Yucaipa, Big Bear Lake, Angeles Oaks, Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms and Barstow.
The Fourth District extends to Chino Hills, Chino, Ontario, Montclair and the southern portion of Upland, as well as Guasti, Los Serranos, Carbon Canyon, Tres Hermanos Ranch, Prado and Frontera.
The Fifth District, the county’s smallest geographically and most densely populated, consists of Colton, east Fontana, Rialto, San Bernardino, Bloomington, El Rancho Verde, Glen Helen, Arrowhead Farms, Muscoy, Little Third and Rosena Ranch.
Though the county’s governmental structure made a public show of involving the public in the effort to draft a district map, holding 18 public meetings at various places around the county to allow a geographically diverse participation in hashing out the new districts, in the end the multiple districting and mapping proposals put forth by a number of county residents were given short shrift and the options for redistricting taken most seriously by the board of supervisors were three generated in-house by the county with the assistance of a county consultant, Northern California-based Redistricting Insights. Indeed, one of those three was never in the running either, as a clear majority of the county board of supervisors by the end of October was gravitating toward accepting the map ultimately chosen, one known as Map 2 Version 2, while entertaining the concept of going with Map 3, which essentially was a replication of the currently existing districts with some relatively small changes.
The board of supervisors essentially did not allow itself to get bogged down in considering the minutiae of the various map submissions and then comparing and contrasting them to arrive at an in-depth conclusion as to their relative merits because doing so would have been so intensive of an effort that it would have made it unlikely that the board of supervisors could conclude the process by December 15. If the board did not adopt a specific map by that date, then the drawing of the maps would have fallen under the purview of the San Bernardino County Superior Court.
In addition, the setting of the map would necessarily involve the county surveyor’s office, and for that department to complete its work, roughly ten days of knowing the precise boundaries set by the board was needed. Thus, the action taken this week, based on a decision made last week, on December 7, was foreordained, such that there was no prospect that the board would vote any other way than it did.
The First District yet encompasses Hesperia, Apple Valley, Victorville, Adelanto, Wrightwood, Oak Hills, Four Corners, Helendale, Silverlakes, Oro Grande, Baker, Trona, Kelso and Zzyxx, the northernmost portion of the county and much of the county lying north of Highway 40 with the exception of Barstow and a few relatively small desert communities.
North Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, all of Fontana, San Antonio Heights, Lytle Creek and Mount Baldy are located within the new Second District.
Grand Terrace, east San Bernardino, Redlands, Yucaipa, Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms, Needles, Barstow, Devore, Lenwood, Amboy, Daggett, Yermo, Ludlow, Cadiz, Danby, Essex, Fenner, Harvard, Newberry Springs, Loma Linda, Big Bear Lake, Lucerne Valley, Johnson Valley, Cedarpines Park, Lake Gregory, Crestline, Lake Arrowhead, Blue Jay, Twin Peaks, Valley of Enchantment, Cedar Glen, Arrowbear, Angeles Oaks and Forest Falls are in the new Third District.
Chino Hills, Chino, Montclair, Ontario and lower Upland fall within the new Fourth District, as do Guasti, Prado, Frontera, Carbon Canyon and Tres Hermanos Ranch.
Rialto, Colton, a major portion of San Bernardino, Bloomington, El Rancho Verde, Arrowhead Farms, Muscoy, Little Third and Rosena Ranch remain in the new Fifth District.
Goffs, which covers an extensive geographical area, falls in both the First and Third districts.
Geographically speaking, the First District has historically been the county’s largest district, encompassing all, or virtually all of the county’s Mojave Desert expanse. It remains the county’s largest district land-wise, but just barely. The redistricting effectuated in 2012 cut the Third District in on a goodly portion of the desert. With the redistricting going into effect next year, the Third District will now claim roughly 40 percent of the county’s desert. The Fifth District will remain the county’s smallest district geographically.
For the last ten years, the First District encompassed 15,753 of the county’s total 20,105 square miles, accounting for 78.3 percent of the county’s total land. Next year it will be reduced to 10,063 square miles, just a tad over half – roughly 50.05 percent – of the county’s land mass.
The Third District, presently the county’s second largest district in size at 3,807 square miles, currently composes 18.93 percent of the county’s territory. It will more than double in size and actually go a good way toward tripling its expanse, growing to 9,640 square miles. Thus, the Third District will account for near 47.95 percent of the county’s real estate, including urban areas, mountains and desert.
The Second District, which for ten years has been by a comfortable margin the third-largest district at 333 square miles, was given a sizable trimming to fit within next year’s district map, losing its claim to the expanse on the eastern side of the San Bernardino Mountains. It now stands at 174 square miles.
The Fourth District, presently at 139 square miles, remains as the fourth largest or second smallest district after picking up two square miles, such that it now extends to 141 square miles.
The Fifth District, at this time the smallest of the five districts at 121 square miles, will pick up 13 square miles when the new map goes into effect, but yet remains the most compact of the five county supervisorial jurisdictions at 134 square miles.
Ideally, the goal has always been that the districts each account for one -fifth, 20 percent, of the county’s population, a target that is very difficult to achieve.
In 2012, the population in the First District stood at 391,385; the Second District was home to 418,604 people; the Third District accounted for 406,395; the Fourth District had 411,309 inhabitants; and the 407,480 resided in the Fifth District.
Next year, the redrawn First District will have roughly 430,041 dwelling within its confines; the Second District will number some 441,285 constituents; the Third District will boast 431,037 residents; 440,910 will call the Fourth District home; and the Fifth District will be 436,879 strong.
According to the county’s redistricting consultant, Matt Rexroad, the population deviation among the various districts is 2.6 percent, which falls under the maximum 5 percent which the office of county counsel, the county’s stable of in-house lawyers, said was the maximum deviation it was believed the county could justify in court if the map were to be legally challenged.
While the current board members – First District Supervisor Paul Cook, Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford, Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe, Fourth District Supervisor Curt Hagman and Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca Jr. – will continue to represent the districts to which they were most recently elected for the time being, the new districts will be in effect for the June 2022 supervisorial elections, when the Second and Fourth District supervisorial positions are to be contested. It has yet to be determined when the existing supervisors will officially become the representatives of the new districts corresponding to their current numerical supervisorial designation.
The map was approved with the support of supervisors Cook, Rowe, Hagman and Baca and over the objection of Supervisor Rutherford. Rutherford said she had to “respectfully disagree” with the sentiment expressed by her colleagues, in particular Cook, as well as with Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren and Fontana Councilman Pete Garcia, who had called for ensuring that the new district map kept cities – in particular Fontana – in the same district rather than splitting them between two districts.
At the November 16 board of supervisors meeting, Rutherford said, “When you are talking about a city having power and control and being united, that’s why you have city boundaries. But our job up here – the five of us – is to represent unincorporated populations because for the most part the decisions we make on this board don’t affect residents of your city. We govern the county services that serve everybody in the county, but we don’t make the decisions about your city laws. We, the county, is not what makes Fontana a unique and distinct community from any other. You do that in the city. You make it distinct. Our job as a supervisor – and I came off the Fontana Council, so I know what it is to represent Fontana as a city and now at the county level. My concerns about the maps are to make sure the unincorporated residents of San Bernardino County have good voices on this board regardless of who the five people sitting here are, that the maps are drawn such that there is a significant enough unincorporated population in each district to make sure that unincorporated residents have their needs served up here. I believe that is accomplished in Map 3 much more than in Map 2. My concerns are not only about the Fontana issue but even more so for the Rim of the World communities.”
The Rim of the World communities Rutherford referenced consists of Cedarpines Park, Lake Gregory, Crestline, Lake Arrowhead, Blue Jay, Twin Peaks, Valley of Enchantment and Cedar Glen.
“Rim of the World [is] not incorporated, but is a distinct community of interest,” Rutherford said. “It is a distinct community of interest from Big Bear – the Big Bear area, which has incorporated and unincorporated – but they have distinct needs, as well. And I think people who live in the Rim who came out ten years ago and said they wanted to be in one district as the mountains, have come to understand the value of having two members on this board who represent rural mountain communities. I think there is a value to that. I would encourage my Fontana friends to also consider how much much more valuable it is to a community to have not only two votes on this board but two votes on SBCTA [the San Bernardino County Transportation Agency] and two votes on OmniTrans [the regional rapid transit agency] and two built-in friends of Fontana wherever you go. You get that in Map 3. You don’t get that in Map 2. Having been in both positions and having lived under a different version of these districts and lived under what ‘s basically Version 3 today, I think Version 3 gives the best voice to our rural and unincorporated residents.”
Supervisor Rowe, whose Third District is to subsume the Rim of the World communities from Rutherford’s Second District, at the November 16 meeting offered what she said was a “volley” to Rutherford’s statement.
“In our redistricting commission meetings – all 16 that took place – we heard from our mountain residents that they wanted to be one, so based on that public testimony for this – and we did go through the redistricting process – if we were going to adopt Map 3, I’m not sure why we wouldn’t have just adopted Map 3 outright and why we went through the redistricting process to have the outside influence of not only the commissioners but our public. So, they did provide the two maps. The third map was added late, so I can make an argument for both sides, but our general public at those meetings came out and said they wanted one voice for the mountain. So, with that spirit in mind that, it would be Map 2.”
At both the December 7 and December 14 meetings, while Rutherford cast a vote in opposition to the adoption of Map 2 Version 2, she remained silent and did not give discourse to the grounds for her opposition.
After initial confusion, there is now greater clarity with regard to the boundaries of the county’s newly created supervisorial districts.